The upbeat crowd at the Aromas Grange on a recent Saturday evening grew silent when Keith Greninger and Dayan Kai began to play and sing.
One song must have been a lump-in-the-throat tune for grandmothers in the crowd, for it was a tribute to Greninger’s grandmothers, Rosie and Ruby. Kai accompanied Greninger on the flute. The flute was just one of the many instruments Kai, a classically trained musician, would play that night.
The men also played the popular song appropriate for the past month, “Make It Rain,”from the duo’s vast repertoire.
But after the audience grew stone quiet for the first few songs, it became upbeat, and boot-stomping, and the crowd grew noisy again. People’s heads were bouncing up and down and knees slapped to the rhythm.
Kai, who spent much of his early years in San Juan Bautista, and Greninger, who lives in Santa Cruz, performed their famous, “San Juan” song. It’s about Kai’s grandfather, a known character in San Juan Bautista, back a few decades, often taking his evening fun in Daisy’s Saloon. The lyrics mention the Mission and the bakery and other sites locals recognized.
This is just one of many concerts and events the Aromas community enjoys, courtesy of the Aromas Grange and its many volunteers.
Rich Saxe, the president of the Grange, promoter of concerts, head of the clean-up committee, and the one who takes on the task of turning folks away when all the tickets have been sold, told BenitoLink, “I take my solace whenever people get together, and talk about our concerns, so we can work it out. Our mission statement is to make a difference in the lives of people in the community.”
Saxe went on to give an example of the many programs available to the community: The Teressie White Memorial Scholarship Foundation began in 1977 after White was murdered.
“We give $4,000 to $5,000 a year to local high school graduates, through our fundraising projects.” Saxe said.
The Aromas Grange, a 103-year-old organization, is the sixth oldest existing Grange in California. Aromas was originally called "Vega," but the name was changed in 1918.
The Grange in the early years was instrumental in many community improvements, such as the library, a railroad depot and a fire department, as well as raising the money for the town's first fire truck.
In 2001, the Grange became one of the first action Granges in California, which led to a new format with the name change to Aromas Community Grange.
The Aromas Grange sponsors town hall meetings and candidates' nights to keep people informed about issues of concern, facilitate problem solving at the community level, and encourage people to be active and involved.
The Grange features “Aromas Live!” a twice-a-year program that showcases the variety of talent in the town.
The next fund raising concert is March 19 with the T Sisters. A chicken dinner, with a vegetarian option, beer and wine are available prior to the concert. Tickets for the concert are available at www.brownpapertickets.com or at www.aromasgrange.org or, 831-726-3609.
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